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THROUGH the kind hand of our God upon us, whose goodness it always behoves us devoutly to acknowledge, we are now brought to the conclusion of the first volume of our Magazine, comprizing the labours of the year.
In taking a retrospect of the scenes through which we have been called to pass, since the time our Prospectus was published, and especially on a calm survey of the situation in which we are now placed, a few leading particulars present themselves to consideration, on which we feel irresistibly impelled to address the friends of this publication.
The principles upon which our journal was originally established, and from which we trust it has never deviated, are such as were by no means calculated to give it eclat with the public. A religious Magazine, wholly unconnected with all religious parties, devoted solely to the purpose of disseminating divine truth among its readers; liberal in its discussions, yet unsupported by great names, and relying for success upon its own intrinsic merit, was a speculation on the issue of which the hopes and expectations of its conductors could not be very sanguine. Their acquaintance with the existing state of the professing world was indeed sufficient to apprise them, of what they have subsequently experienced to be the case, that they would have to force their way into public favour, through clouds of prejudice and passion, amidst the clamour of contending factions, where the spirit of party rules paramount, and the sacred cause of TRUTH is made to follow in the train. The consequence has been, that this Magazine has the
by each party in its tugular fate to be praised and abused
and the reason is very obvious; for, setting out as we did with the determination to follow. no party but that of truth, it has fallen to our lot to be found one month in unison with one of the parties, and the following with another. The Dissenter is gratified in beholding the arrogant tone of the Episcopalian lowered, while the Baptist and Pædobaptist in their respective turns, smile at each others mortification, and neither of them can presume to claim us as their ally.
As it is possible that the tenor of these remarks may not be very palatable to some of our readers, we beg leave to enter into a little explanation on this point, to prevent being misunderstood. We have neither pleasure nor pride in differing from others in any thing that regards the faith and obedience of the gospel; and where the interests of divine truth are not at stake, we feel it our duty "to follow the things which make for peace." But
we are frank to confess, that an undue attachment to party appears to us to be among the most prevailing evils that infect the christian church in the present day. "He must be a sturdy moralist," said Johnson, when speaking of the nationality of our northern neighbours, "that does not love Scotland better than truth." If we might be allowed to borrow his phraseology, we would say, that "he must be as singular among the professors of the present day, as a black swan is among birds, who does not love his own party better than the truth!" This is a serious evil even among private Christians; but when it finds its way into the management of our public journals, which are intended to regulate the public sentiment and feeling, its baneful influence becomes intolerable. Instead of furthering the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world, it teaches men to mingle in their minds truth and error, and draws in conscience itself to be a friendly supporter of hypocrisy and deceit. Should any ask an exemplification of the truth of this censure, we request them tò mark the conduct of the editors of the most popular of our religious Magazines; the indiscriminate panegyric that is ever bestowed on the writers who support their own party; their aversion to insert any thing that will give offence, however im periously demanded by the cause of truth, and they will require no further proof of its justice.
As it would, therefore, be quite absurd in us to expect support from men of mere party, we turn to those decided friends of truth, in whose minds her celestial voice has more weight than the empty noise of giddy multitudes; and we earnestly solicit their countenance and co-operation, which we ask no longer than our labours are found to be subservient to the glory of God and the best interests of our fellow mortals. How far this has been the case with what is already before them, it would ill become us to decide, and we cheerfully submit, with all due deference, to their candid judgments. But surrounded as we have been with difficulties and discouragements, we have nevertheless been occasionally cheered and animated by assurances from various distant quarters, that our efforts to promote the interests of the best of causes are duly appreciated, and that our labours have not been altogether in vain.
From the very superior style in which the embellishments of this work are given, its readers will naturally conclude, that a large circulation is indispensably necessary to indemnify the expenses incident to publication; and while we gratefully ac knowledge the support it has already received, we respectfully intreat all those who wish its prosperity, to promote its circulation to the utmost of their power. We dare not indeed imitate the bold conduct of the editors of another rival journal, in requesting "ministers to read the Preface of this volume to their congregations, before the commencement of a new year"-but we most respectfully assure those friends who think it calculated to promote the cause of truth and virtue, that we shall be thankful to them if they will have the goodness to recommend it in the circle
of their respective friends. Were each present subscriber to exert his influence in getting an additional one, the summit of our wishes on that head would be attained.
When we take a survey of the existing state of the world, and contemplate the aspect of the present times, we confess that our minds are almost overwhelmed with the magnitude of the objects that present themselves to our view, and are confident that to the church of God it is a crisis of unexampled difficulty, and big with portentous events. On the one hand we remark, that the return of the blessing of peace to the nations of Europe, has brought along with it, the re-establishment on his throne of the head of the Catholic Church; the revival of the lately expiring cause of the Man of Sin; and already are the nations beginning to experience the baneful effects in the restoration of the order of the Jesuits, the planting of the Inquisition in Spain, and the opening of the flood-gates of persecution against our fellow Christians throughout the southern provinces of France. But if these circumstances are calculated to fill us with fearful forebodings, which we readily admit to be the case, we are not without much to console us, on the other hand, in the general diffusion of the word of truth, by means of Bible, Missionary, and School Societies; in all which, we must be blind indeed not to behold the finger of God. For the final issue we do not indeed despair; but it is of importance to us to be duly apprised of the conflict that assuredly awaits us. To suppose that "the mystery of iniquity" can exist without the spirit of persecution, is as vain as to imagine that "the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard its spots." A system founded in falsehood and deceit, and supported by ignorance and superstition, can alone be maintained by violence and oppression. And as, according to all human probability, and, we may add, the spirit of prophecy also, the last grand contest is about to commence between the powers of light and those of darkness, what can we rationally look forwards to, but something akin to the struggle that formerly took place in the world, when the idolatrous worship of Paganism was subverted in the Roman empire, as described in Rev. vi. 12-17. Nor let our countrymen fondly dream that the terrible conflict can never reach their border. Let them remember the very unexpected events that have recently occurred in neighbouring countries; and, above all, let them seriously consider the high state of privilege which they have long enjoyed, and, through the kind providence of God, are still enjoying; the obligations which it lays them under to be dévoted to his service and fear; the manner in which they have occupied the talent entrusted to them, and never forget that the time is at hand when it will be said to each of us individually, "Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou canst be no longer steward."
London, December 14, 1815
REVIEW.-Bp. of London's Charge-
Illustrated- -Anecdotes... ..33-44
RELIG. INTELL.-London Society for
DOCT. and PRACT.Birth-day Reflec-
tions-On the title Ambassador-Self-
RELIG. INTELL.-British and Foreign
REVIEW.-Burder's Memoirs of Pious
MEMOIR-Mr. Archibald M'Lean, late
quiry respecting Christ's Omnipre-
MEMOIR.-Mr. Arch. M'Lean, con-
REVIEW-Bp. Horsley's Dissertation,
DOCTR. and PRACT.- Sermon on